The Lazy Dog Days of August

Saw “Pulse” at the Camera 12. A surprisingly good movie of a ghostly computer virus that takes away a person’s will to live and traps them into committing suicide over the Internet. As the movie demonstrates, we are surprisingly well-connected to each other by our electronic devices and would be vulnerable if such a disaster was to happen. I missed seeing the original Japanese version by the same name when it played at the Camera 12 earlier this year. Now I can’t find the DVD in local stores since the American version came out in the theaters.

After I got back from my brother’s birthday party in Morgan Hill on Sunday evening, I noticed smoke pouring out of a kitchen air vent on the apartment building across the way from my own. The smoke alternated in color: white smoke for five minutes, black smoke for five minutes, and white smoke for another five minutes. Almost as if a new pope got elected at the Vatican. All the neighbors were rubbernecking from their balconies as they pointed at the commotion without doing anything about it.

One of those moments where you debate calling 911, see if someone else calls 911, or do nothing and hope for the best. The fire department sent three trucks from the station down the street. One firefighter inspected the roof. The fire trucks went away without the building burning to the ground. The warped hood and air vent got tossed out on the sidewalk a few days later, as repairs were made inside the apartment. Looks like serious grease fire that caused that much damage.

The lazy dog days of summer is coming to a close.

The Creeping Price of Stephen King’s Cell

Cell by Stephen KingI recently placed my pre-order for the paperback edition of “Cell” by Stephen King  coming out in November. What’s the retail price of this zombie-on-a-cell-phone treat? It’s $9.99 USD (not including tax). That’s just about as much as a trade paperback. This “premium” paperback which is becoming the favorite format and price point between hardbacks and mass market paperbacks.

Prices are creeping up to $7.99 for an average-sized paperback and $8.99 USD for a larger paperback. Stephen King’s newest paperback is pricey for 480 pages. I used to get a month’s worth of reading—about ten paperbacks—for $30 USD in the early 1980’s when I was a teenager. It’s getting to the point that I’m waiting for the hardback to land in the bargain bin, or do a four-for-three paperback sale at Amazon or Borders.

What is a poor reading junkie supposed to do?

An IKEA Apartment

An IKEA Apartment PicturesMy father and I went out to IKEA in East Palo Alto to pick up a coffee table for my TV and video game consoles, and three tall bookshelves that match the one that I already have. I spent the past weekend putting everything together to transform my modest studio apartment into something much more respectable.

The coffee table was the easiest to put together, replacing an empty green tub turned upside down and green crates from my first tour through college. The TV, DVD player and video switcher went on top. The PlayStation One and GameCube consoles, and the DVDs in the black nylon cases, went on the shelf. The video games and DVD box sets went into a pair of clear containers that I got from The Container Store to keep everything organized and dust free.

Putting together the shelving units were more involved as each one got built and put aside. I managed to mess up on one unit by having the inside shelf holes facing out, not realizing my mistake until I tried to put the shelves in, and took it apart to start over again. A strap connects the top of the shelf to the wall. The funny part about that was the manual diagram showing two screws, but only one screw was in the package. I nailed the straps to the shelves and screwed the other end into the wall.

After moving 300+ books out of the away, the old particle board shelf got hauled out to the recycling bin outside. All the tall shelves went against the wall next to my bed.. I relocated the short shelf next to the kitchen table to put the phone equipment and computer books on top. The books went back on the shelves in a semi-organized fashion to form a new library.

Finding Classes, MacBook Upgrade & Getting Older

I’m two classes short of getting my associate degree in computer programming at San Jose City College. The plan was to take one class at Mission College in the fall semester and the other class at SJCC in the spring semester. The registrations numbers at either campus don’t look too good that I’ll get those classes.

When I started going back to school five years ago, I couldn’t get the classes I wanted because there were too many students. Now I can’t get the classes I need because there aren’t enough students. Never mind the long-term trends of the Baby Boomers retiring en masse over the next 20 years, and that technology growth in for India and China will require keeping their I.T. workers at home, the United States won’t have enough people to fill the technical jobs in the future.

I’m not sure yet what I’m planning to do next semester. I could take a class that I don’t need like finite math or photography, complete my Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) certification, work on becoming a published writer sooner rather than later, or all of the above. Decisions, decision, decisions. That doesn’t get any easier when you get older.

Speaking of which, I recently had my 37th birthday. I got myself two sticks of 1GB memory and a brand new Windows XP OEM disc for my MacBook. I had more trouble trying to get the memory modules out of the packaging than putting them into the MacBook. I did the upgrade at work because I didn’t have the extra small screwdrivers at home. Going from 512MB to 2GB made a huge difference—no more waiting on the beach balls! Installing Boot Camp and Windows XP was just about as easy, but the post-install of Windows took forever. Now I have the best of both worlds by running Mac OS X and Windows XP on the same laptop.